Research opportunities open career doors for senior
Hannah Thomas didn’t think she was interested in a career working with children.
After spending three years conducting research in two College of Arts and Sciences’ psychology department labs, she can’t imagine doing anything else but helping unravel neurological and learning issues that many children face.
Thomas, who will graduate May 12 with a major in psychology and a minor in neuroscience, this summer begins a job at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Center for Autism and the Developing Brain in New York.
During her sophomore year at Carolina, she began working in psychology professor and renowned autism researcher Jane Robert’s lab. There she’s assisted with data collection and was trained in behavioral codes for investigating social communication in minimally verbal children with autism and fragile x syndrome.
“Without the experiences here, I wouldn’t have gotten the job,” she says. “They definitely molded me into a researcher here.”
Thomas considers Roberts and doctoral student Kelly Caravella outstanding mentors who offered key guidance on job interview tips and mapping out post-graduation plans.
Roberts also pointed Thomas in the direction of another psychology faculty member when the undergraduate expressed interest in gaining additional research experience last summer. In Scott Decker’s lab, Thomas focused on better understanding neurological and cognitive profiles of children with dyslexia.
“I would absolutely recommend getting into research not only because it gives you more experience, but it also taught me a lot about time management and figuring out how to balance school and jobs.”
Hannah Thomas, psychology major
She presented two research posters on her work from each lab at Discover USC, the annual university-wide student research showcase. The dyslexia research poster received an honorable mention.
For Thomas, research is the key element to her success as a student and a job candidate.
“I would absolutely recommend getting into research not only because it gives you more experience, but it also taught me a lot about time management and figuring out how to balance school and jobs,” she says.
Her ultimate goal is to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology, and she will begin looking at graduate schools in a year. Until then, she’s gearing up to move to New York and enjoying her last few weeks with her friends at Carolina.
Thomas has advice for current and future College of Arts and Sciences students.
“You should pursue any and all opportunities here that you can,” she says. “If I could do anything differently it would be getting involved in research even earlier.”